Category Archives: Causes

Traffick Free’s Top 10 List of Products Made with Child and/or Forced Labor

134 goods in 74 countries were reviewed in the U.S. Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor for 2012. Check out the List for a detailed record of those products and countries that have reported child labor or forced labor.

“The International Labor Organization (ILO) has produced new global estimates placing the number of people trapped in forced labor at 21 million, including 6 million children forced into labor or sexual exploitation. The ILO also estimates that 215 million children are working as child laborers, of which about 115 million participate in hazardous labor.“

Here is Traffick Free’s Top 10 List of products you may be shopping for this holiday season that could be contributing to labor trafficking worldwide, based on the Department of Labor report:

  1. Diamonds, Gold, Minerals, Metals & Gems – 90-95% Child Labor (CL), 5-10% Forced Labor (FL) – of 34 countries reported to have used Child and/or Forced Labor
  2. Cotton, Garments, Leather, Jute, Silk, Textiles, Thread & Yarn – 80-90% CL, 10-20% FL – of 25 countries reported
  3. Coffee & Tea – 100% Child Labor – of 16 countries reported
  4. Embellished Textiles, Fashion Accessories & Footwear – 90% CL, 10% FL – of 7 countries reported
  5. Cocoa/Chocolate – 100% Child Labor – of 6 countries reported
  6. Nuts & Seeds (Brazil Nuts/Chestnuts, Cashews, Hazelnuts, Peanuts, Sesame Seeds) – 60-70% CL, 30-40% FL – of 6 countries reported
  7. Flowers (Real & Artificial) – 50% CL, 50% FL – of 4 countries reported
  8. Soccer Balls & Toys  – 100% Child Labor – of 2 countries reported
  9. Electronics – Both Child & Forced Labor – of 1 country reported
  10. Christmas Decorations  – Forced Labor – of 1 country reported

Some notable findings:

  • 60% of child labor worldwide is agriculture

  • Over 55% of the world’s forced laborers are in the South Asia region

  • The highest concentrations of forced labor in manufactured goods are found in the production of garments and bricks.

  • Agricultural goods with concentrations of forced labor include: cotton, cattle, and sugarcane.

  • Manufactured goods such as carpets, fashion accessories, footwear and garments are often made with child labor – developed countries are not exempt!

Goods associated with a notably high concentration of child and/or forced labor include cotton (17 countries), sugarcane (16 countries), coffee (14 countries), cattle (12 countries), rice (eight countries), fish (seven countries) and cocoa (six countries) in the agricultural sector; bricks (18 countries), garments (eight countries), carpets (five countries) and footwear (five countries) in the manufacturing sector; and gold (19 countries), diamonds (seven countries) and coal (seven countries) in the mining/quarrying sector.

With the 2012 update, the List includes 123 goods in the “child labor” category:  58 agricultural goods, 38 manufactured goods and 26 mined/quarried goods, as well as pornography. The relatively large number of agricultural goods produced by child labor is consistent with the ILO estimate that 60 percent of child labor worldwide is in agriculture.

With the 2012 update, the List includes 56 goods in the “forced labor” category: 26 agricultural goods, 18 manufactured goods and 11 mined/quarried goods, as well as pornography. Agricultural goods with notable concentrations of forced labor include cotton (eight countries), cattle (five countries) and sugarcane (five countries). Among manufactured goods, the highest concentrations of forced labor were found in the production of garments (eight countries) and bricks (seven countries).

*A country’s absence from the List does not necessarily indicate that child labor and/or forced labor are not occurring in the production of goods in that country. Data can be unavailable for various reasons, including both research and policy considerations.

*Some countries with relatively large numbers of goods on the List may not have the most serious problems of child labor or forced labor. Often, these are countries that have more openly acknowledged the problems, have better research and have allowed information on these issues to be disseminated. Such countries include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, India, Kenya, Mexico, Philippines, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda and Zambia. The number of goods on the List from any particular country should not be interpreted as a direct indicator that these countries have the most extensive problems of child labor or forced labor.

If researching where to buy products is overwhelming, consider buying less…or buying 2nd hand stuff – go with used, pre-owned, refurbished, last season, sale rack & thrifty!

For fair trade recommendations on websites, shops & apps to help you with your holiday shopping this year, see the What You Can Do! post on the Traffick Free website. And please consider participating in #GivingTuesday and donating to Traffick Free this year as a gift to the abolitionist in your life or to support our work (and my personal work).
giving looks good on you


Heavy Burdens

Tea ~ Jasmine Pearls

Anyone who knows me well would probably describe me as a passionate, hard-working person. Most would say how great those qualities are and what a strength it is, but in recent months & years, God has revealed what a weakness it can be and what a temptation to take on too much can do.

With the work that God has called me to do with Traffick Free and the issue of human trafficking that I think about on a daily basis, it doesn’t take much for me to feel overwhelmed because the topic itself is overwhelming. I sometimes find it hard to allow myself to experience good or pleasurable things because I know that there are people in the world that have nothing, face disease or oppression constantly, have no home or family or that someone will purchase them for sex and abuse or exploit them later that night. It pains me. Just last week, Greg & I watched The Whistleblower, “A drama based on the experiences of Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska cop who served as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia and outed the U.N. for covering up a sex scandal,” as recommended by a friend. *WARNING:  GRAPHIC CONTENT* I was not mentally or emotionally prepared for a scene in which a young girl is sexually violated by a metal pipe because she ran away from her pimp and got caught. And even worse, was to make the other girls held captive watch in horror while they made an example of her. They didn’t even show any part of her body during this scene, the terror and reaction to this act were enough to get the point across.

I had to turn it off. I spent the next 20 minutes sobbing on my husband’s chest while he held me. How can I sleep at night when there are women out there being treated this way at this very moment? I wanted to ask Rachel Lloyd of GEMS in NYC (an amazing organization and program that Traffick Free hopes to incorporate their model into ours when our housing gets up and running) a similar question last year when she came to Chicago for her book release party and our expert panel event. “How do you do this kind of work everyday without taking the weight of it onto your shoulders?” The real challenge is that she lived it. She wrote about her time in “the life” as well as the work she’s doing now to end human trafficking in NYC in her memoir, Girls Like Us, which I am in the middle of reading, and it’s wonderful so far.

The truth is, a year ago I had to really pray about and think through coming on staff with Traffick Free because I know that my temptation is to take the weight of the world on my shoulders. We were involved for 10 months before I made a commitment to a director role because I had to be sure that this was what I wanted to do. It wouldn’t be fair to dip my toe in, have others in leadership rely on me, only to be wishy washy about the whole thing. So how does one deal with heavy issues that can easily become heavy burdens?

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”   ~ Matthew 11:28-30

If you are reading this and are not a follower of Jesus, I don’t know how you do it. I am unable to do life on my own strength. These words in the book of Matthew are a comfort to me as I seek to rest in the Lord. If I wasn’t resting in Him, I wouldn’t be resting at all. I am a work-aholic and my default mode is to carry the burdens of others on myself. In this interview with Moody Radio that I was asked to do this week, I talked about the one and only time I’ve felt compelled to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (888-3737-888, save it in your cell phone right now and report any suspicious activity) in a small, rural town called Bridgman, Michigan, last fall (not far from where I grew up). One woman commented later on our Facebook page:  “I can’t stop thinking about the story of the woman & child in the back seat.” Please listen to the interview to hear the story as well as how I heard about human trafficking 2 years ago and what I’m doing about it. I would love your feedback!

What heavy burdens do you carry that you could give up to the Lord? Please be praying for me about this area of my life. We are not meant to carry and bear the weight of this broken world when Jesus already has. And we are made perfect in weakness. By admitting this weakness, I am made stronger and whole again. Join me in doing the same with your burdens so that we might find rest. And my birthday is next Thursday, support this ministry with a donation as I donate my birthday to Traffick Free!

Be encouraged!

Realities of the Super Bowl

[ooyala code=”JsbmczOTojQV0SRToxyaVe6plrbiES22″]

NEW ORLEANS, LA (KTVI) – Sex trafficking is right under your nose.  We`re about to show you why you might walk right by it without noticing.  Investigator Chris Hayes traveled to New Orleans with a team of volunteers looking to rescue sex slaves.  

A group of regular citizens travel to each Superbowl to investigate the dark side of sports tourism.  They are finding young girls, some who were reported missing.  They focus on Superbowls because that`s where men are buying little kids.

More on this story: Author Describes Super Bowl Sex Rescue

Brad Dennis called New Orleans combination of football and Mardi Gras, “The perfect storm. You have all of these elements come together.  That`s just going to drive the demand.”

Dennis is the search director for Klaas Kids. He came to New Orleans to rescue girls.  He said, “2,200 children are reported missing every day in…

View original post 580 more words

Quality & Quantity

Tea ~ Jasmine Pearls

I hope you and your families had a wonderful and restful Thanksgiving holiday! I hosted about 20 people at our place on Thursday afternoon and my parents and my cousin stayed the night and then we had some friends spend the rest of the weekend with us. I am thankful for holidays that we have time off from work to spend quality time with loved ones.

While I was able to do that, there are countless others here in America and abroad that do not have that freedom. As we pulled our turkey out of the roaster and brought in extra tables for dinner, there were Wal-Mart employees who are required to work Thanksgiving to gear up for the black Friday rush (I won’t give credit to this day by capitalizing black). There were brick makers working in India who will never be able to repay a debt and that burden is passed down to their children and grandchildren to be slaves in horrible conditions for more than just an 8 or 10-hour workday.

As tempting as those black Friday deals are with door busters and early bird sales beginning in the wee hours of the morning on Friday or on Thanksgiving Day, I have felt like I would be selling my soul to save $50. My family has never been big on gift-giving in the first place, and I am grateful that we don’t typically buy each other things that we don’t need.

Even before the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving preparations began (where I was only almost run over twice by hurried or distracted shoppers), I have had a heavy heart with consumerism. Not only did I not want to participate in what our country calls black Friday, I have also become much more thoughtful in what I am buying. Where is the money that God has provided my family and I going? What is it supporting? I hesitate to buy new clothes at all these days. Are there men, women and children here or in another country being forced to make my clothing so that I can buy MORE shirts, skirts and shoes? Am I driven by quantity?

I do enjoy sale racks and items from last season as they become unwanted, but I still ask myself if I really need it? I also appreciate the resale shops the neighborhoods of Chicago have to offer. I find myself preferring this method of shopping because these items have already been discarded and then I am supporting a local business to keep this method alive.

Do you know what you are supporting with your money? Have you thought about making small changes to buy fair trade (like The Green Heart Shop in Wicker Park/online,  Midwest Teasmith online or Natril Gear online) or resale as we join together to stop human trafficking? I invite you to join me this holiday season in this challenge.

Along with Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, tomorrow is Giving Tuesday. If you would like to support Traffick Free in Chicago (a non-profit organization I volunteer for to combat human trafficking) with a financial gift, please e-mail

Just remember that every dollar you spend supports something. You are making a decision with that dollar. Be informed about where your money goes. If you want to pay an incredibly low price for a product, it is possible that in order to get that price, wages are being cut. I hope you’ll consider this when you want to spend no more than $10 on a shirt that is not on the sale rack. I have recently started knitting and spent hours making a scarft for my husband (see below). This is turning out to be an $80 scarf! I have a new respect for homemade products as I myself have spent a lot of time to make gifts for family and friends. And just because the price is higher doesn’t mean the clothing makers are getting a fair wage, but retailers may be increasing the profit margin on that product.

I think this conviction has caused me to buy both less quanitity and better quality or used. It is changing my perspective on consumerism and materialism. I want other families to have quality time and days off on holidays too and these are just a few small changes I can make to see that happen someday.

Midwest TeaSMITH

tea leaves

As advocates of Tea both Sarah and myself want to make sure we are conveying to our readers whom the tea is being provided by.

Her website is  here:  Midwest Teasmith

Mrs. Smith has a wonderful business and tea website you should check out, order from (especially since Christmas is 6 weeks away!) and share with your friends. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment for Sarah or myself and we can contact Mrs. Smith on your behalf or answer your questions about tea! Happy steeping!

 Savvy Tea Steeper

Being a Patriot is Being an Advocate

Tea ~ Organic Earl Grey

In honor of Election Day, I am going to share a quick post with you. I am the Communications Director for an anti-human trafficking organization called Traffick Free in Chicago. We are 100% volunteer run and are planning to get a safe house up and running in the next couple of years. If you aren’t familiar with human trafficking or that it happens in the USA in large cities and small towns, please visit Traffick Free‘s website for more information. I’m sure I’ll post again on this topic with more detail in the future, but this applies to today:


My friend and Executive Director of TF, Laura, and I wrote a blog post in honor of this day. Not only to get out and vote, but why and how each person in our country can take part in ending modern day slavery. You can read it on the Traffick Free website, but if you are like me and don’t like to click to a bunch of websites, you’re welcome. I’ve pasted it below.

People are always eager to know what it is they can do to fight human trafficking. We are blessed to know so many modern-day abolitionists that are willing to give of their time to coordinate 5k’s in the city and the suburbs that have reached thousands in the Chicagoland area this year alone; abolitionists that write curriculum to educate our youth in hopes of preventing human trafficking from happening in the first place; abolitionists that are willing to take on full-time volunteer positions to do everything they can to make a difference.

Those with less time to be able to dedicate to this cause are careful to buy fair trade and direct buy as often as possible, host movie screenings for their friends, and keep up with our social media posts and repost news and victories in the movement to spread the word to their friends.

Today, we all have an opportunity to do something tangible in the cause we fight for: GO OUT AND VOTE. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act is still awaiting reauthorization. The Illinois Safe Children Act was passed with just one round of review through our state’s House and Senate. Know how your representatives voted. Know which bills your representatives are putting their names behind. Know how your elected individuals in the judicial system would rule in human trafficking cases. Know how the programs that are desperately needed are funded. Take your passion for this issue and speak out with your vote.

Now, more than ever, people are being made aware of human trafficking. Not merely internationally, but right here at home in the United States of America. Not merely nationally, but right here in your city. The impact of broken homes, violence, abuse, fear, coercion and intimidation has spread like a virus among us in our neighborhoods. Only a small percentage is trained to deal with each incident directly. But EVERY citizen has power in a pen to deal with the issue as a whole from the top down in government legislation to protect victims and prosecute perpetrators.

No longer are you allowed an excuse that there is nothing you can do to make a change. Men and women before us have worked hard to ensure our right to vote and we can now exercise that right by using it to effect legislative, judicial and executive positions. Give your pen a voice and vote.

by: Laura Ng, Exective Director & Sarah Amidon, Communications Director

*Traffick Free is not affiliated with any political party.

Be a patriot. What cause are you or can you be an advocate for? Get out and vote. And more importantly, pray for our leaders regardless of who wins.

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior…” 1 Timothy 2:1-3